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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, November 7, 2002

$2.5 million grant at UH-Hilo to train Hawaiians as scientists

By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — Geography professor Sonia Juvik, of the University of Hawai'i-Hilo, has received a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to assist Native Hawaiian students in entering the science field.

Juvik will head a project that reaches out to college students as well as to youngsters in kindergarten through Grade 12 to recruit, train and retain Native Hawaiians interested in studying the "STEM" subjects — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Assisting her will be David Sing, director of Na Pua No'eau, UHH's Center for Gifted and Talented Native Hawaiian Students, and college faculty from the STEM-related disciplines, the Education Department and Ka Haka 'Ula O Ke'elikolani College of Hawaiian Language.

Sing noted that many Native Hawaiian cultural practices are connected to science-related fields such as star-gazing, and ocean and land uses.

"Over the years, our educational curriculum and our way of teaching at the university and schools have not allowed that kind of history and background to be a part of it," he said.

The initial step in implementing the program at the university level will be to set up a freshman course, STEM 101, designed for Hawaiian students interested in the designated disciplines, Sing said.

"The real work will be with students in grades from K to 12," Sing said.

Juvik plans on using programs such as Na Pua No'eau and Upward Bound as starting points to stimulate interest in the STEM subjects.